Natural Foods Merchandiser

Gardenburger out of Ch. 11 with new focus

Gardenburger Inc. emerged from bankruptcy March 30 with a new name and a new focus. Now known as Wholesome & Hearty Foods Co., the company is privately owned by Annex Capital Management LLC, a New York-based investment firm. Wholesome & Hearty will continue to market its meatless burgers under the Gardenburger name.

"We're really excited," said Melanie Flaherty, director of marketing for Wholesome & Hearty. "We did emerge as a privately held company with a very reasonable debt structure, so it helps us operate in a way that we can send more to the business rather than servicing our debt."

The company intends to refocus on its roots—serving its core consumers who seek vegetarian foods with positive nutritional benefits. "This is a distinct shift from its pre-bankruptcy strategy of adjusting its recipes and product positioning to meet the needs of consumers on low-carb diets," the company noted in a news release.

The company said it is developing a line of organic products, to be launched next fall, and is adding ingredients such as omega-3-rich flaxseed to existing products. "We realize how important the quality of every ingredient is to the core users of this category, so we're really looking at sourcing the best quality ingredients, including organics, for every product," Flaherty said. "Being privately held, we're fully empowered to follow this new strategy."

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